No Surprise: Cardinals Don't Make a Move at Trade Deadline

Well, we've seen another trade deadline come and go, with very little real movement happening. Anyone who didn't see that coming, raise your hand. All right, someone will be by shortly to punch you in the back of the head.

When it comes to our own hometown Cardinals, I can't really say I object to standing pat. There has been a ton of clamoring amongst the fan base for the Cards to do something, anything, to improve this squad, but would that really have been a good idea? Considering the asking price for even marginal talent in the trade market, I'm not sure it would have been.

Would I have liked to see some help for the bullpen? Absolutely. But unless you were going to pony up and get Huston Street from the Athletics, there probably wasn't a magic bullet out there. And with what I'm sure Billy Beane wanted for Street, I'm not sure that magic bullet would have been worth the long-term damage.

The thing is, if you look around the league, very, very few deals were made. It seems like every team in baseball was looking for a lefty reliever, and only one, Arthur Rhodes of the Mariners, was moved.

George Sherrill is still in place in Baltimore. Ron Mahay is still languishing in Kansas City. Brian Fuentes is still a member of the Rockies.

It wasn't just the Cardinals that didn't make a move, it was everybody. It's tough to really blame Cardinals GM John Mozeliak for sticking with what he had, when everyone else did the exact same thing.

The July 31 deadline has become a complete joke. All you have to do to see exactly why is to look at the Colorado Rockies this year. The Rockies currently find themselves sitting eleven- that's right, eleven- games below .500 for the year. And yet, despite that record, and the fact that they had one of the most lusted-after pitchers of the entire trading season in Fuentes, Colorado made no moves. Why? They consider themselves still in contention. The thing is, they're probably right.

Look at the Rockies' competition in the National League West. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who I thought were just going to be a monster of a team, by the way, currently sit atop the NL West with a record of 55-52, only one game clear of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That means that the Rockies, despite being more than ten games under .500 and firmly in third place, are only seven games out of the division lead. Now, whether or not seven games out with two teams in front of you is ''in contention'' may be a matter of opinion. The fact remains, though, that Colorado sees themselves as being close enough that they don't feel as if they should be sellers.

By the way, I'm just going to have to break into my own diatribe here and say something. Is anyone else as tired as I am of watching Joel Pineiro blow leads? I'm currently sitting in an Italian restaurant, having dinner, watching the ball game, and trying to be productive, and Pineiro is making it very tough to do anything but glare at the television in rage. He seems to be okay as long as the Cardinals are down or the game is tied, but the second you hand him a lead, no matter how big or how small, he immediately turns into one of those pitching machines they have in batting cages, just tossing the ball up there to get smacked around. And we've got another year of this guy hanging around at seven million dollars. Oy.

Anyway, look around at the rest of the league. Everywhere you look, you see teams sitting on their hands because they're still in some sort of race. Some are in the hunt for the wild card, some are still looking for a division crown. Either way, there simply aren't that many teams that are truly out of the running.

In the old days of two divisions (or the even older days of just two leagues), by the time the 31st of July rolled around, teams pretty much knew exactly where they stood. The top two or maybe three teams in a division were looking to fill in the holes and upgrade wherever they could, the rest of the teams became trade fodder. You would call one of the also-rans, figure out what they were looking to build on for next season, and then try to find a match. You need lefty relief help? Hey, there's twelve, fourteen teams out of it. At least one of them has a shutdown LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) and could really use a third base prospect. Hello, bullpen help.

Now, though, at the end of July, there are probably only about six or seven teams out of 30 that are truly out of it. Unless you're the Seattle Mariners, if you look hard enough you can find an avenue to possibly make the playoffs for almost every team out there. Of course, if you're the Seattle Mariners, you're too damn stupid to recognize what's good for your ball club anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Okay, I take back what I said earlier about Joel Pineiro. He just gave up a home run to the Braves catcher with the score tied at four. Sorry, Joel. I shouldn't have said you suck when you have a lead. You suck the rest of the time too.

Simply put, the July 31 deadline is an anachronism. With the wild card in play and the amount of parity we see in the game currently, the end of July is just too early in the year for teams to really have decided whether they're in or out. The non-waiver deadline needs to be abolished. Just move the whole shebang back to the 31st of August. That's the real deadline anyway, it just requires an extra step to make deals in August. Just make that the flat out deal deadline and eliminate the whole waiver deal process.

By the end of August, teams know exactly who they are and where they stand, for the most part. There will still be some teams on the fence, of course, but you just watch the next month of the season. Of the 20 teams that still think they're in contention, right around half of them will fall out of the race in the next month. By the time the 31st of August rolls around, you can actually see the races come together. You can look at the wild card standing and see who actually has a shot and who's just fooling themselves. The divisions will begin to look a whole lot like what they will at the end of the season.

Of course, I don't expect this to ever happen in my lifetime. Baseball, despite being the game that I love with all of my heart, isn't known for making particularly intelligent decisions to improve the game. I'm sure that, come this time next year, we'll all be sitting around marveling at the lack of deals that were made, and at just how many of these teams still think they have an honest shot at making the post-season. The year after that, the same. Ditto the year after that. The year after that? Well, you get the idea.

There really isn't much of a point to the July trade deadline anymore, but we continue on with it anyway. Oh well. I guess that waiting for nothing is just going to be one of those annual traditions from now on.

- Aaron Schafer

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